Talented two-year-old Bavella is helping Karaka trainer Lance Noble break new ground.
Noble will saddle the unbeaten Snitzel filly in Saturday's Gr.2 J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (1200m), happy in the knowledge that she is the new benchmark among two-year-olds he has trained.
"She's clearly the best two-year-old I've had anything to do with," Noble said.
"She's just an absolute professional and has that natural ability. From day one, she gave us that indication."
TAB bookmakers opened Bavella as an even money favourite for the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes but were forced to trim her quote to $1.90 with the weight of early money for her.
Noble was confident Bavella would run well but was wary that she could be vulnerable fresh-up against seasoned summer-performed rivals.
"The only question mark is that she showed a lot of ability in the spring against the early two-year-olds and how much the other horses have improved," he said.
"Has she improved? That's hard to tell until we see her on the track. If she shows what she did in the spring, then you'd think she'd be very competitive.
"This is her second preparation and she's more settled. She mooches around doing slow work but she switches on with her quicker work like a real professional. Leith (Innes, jockey) came out and galloped her this week and he was really happy with the way she's going."
With her regular jockey Innes suspended, Vinnie Colgan has picked up the ride on Bavella on Saturday in her first start since winning the Listed Splice Construction Stakes (1100m) at Pukekohe in November.
Bred and raced by Cambridge Stud's Brendan and Jo Lindsay, Bavella had won easily on debut at Ellerslie in October, having chased subsequent Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) winner Probabeel in running second at the Te Awamutu trials before racing.
"She pulled a muscle in that last run at Pukekohe so she had a month off. She was going to have a break anyway so it really hasn't affected her preparation. Because she wasn't eligible for the Karaka Million, we weren't pushing to get her anywhere," Noble said.
"She'll have this one on Saturday and then it's two weeks into the Sistema Stakes (Gr.1, 1200m). While we expect her to strip fit and run well this weekend, there's still improvement in her.
"I don't like being too cocky but if she's somewhere near what she was doing in the spring, then she's going to take some beating."
Noble will also saddle Gr.3 City Of Auckland Cup (2400m) winner Prince Jabeel in Saturday's Listed Marks Ewen & Associates Kaimai Stakes (2000m), the race serving as the Savabeel five-year-old gelding's leadup to the Gr.1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) at Ellerslie on March 9.
"We just don't know what to expect with him because he just keeps getting better. He had 10 days off after his third placing in the Wellington Cup (Gr.3, 3200m) but he doesn't need a lot of work - he's naturally fit," said Noble, fresh from producing Avondale winners Sistabeel and Markle on Wednesday.
"This is a race to get him ready for the Auckland Cup and you'd expect it to be too short for him but he might just run a cheeky race over 2000m. It's confusing, the weights in these handicaps though. He carried 59 kilos in the Wellington Cup and the next handicap he's in, he drops to 53.5kg - but I guess that also helps." - NZ Racing Desk